Our Taiwan trip has been so far, so good .. and Alishan has been treating us really well. Day 5 started in a way that I couldn’t have asked for more. We planned to head back to Taipei in the early morning, but we were delayed for a very good reason. Bf + me + Sea of clouds 云海 = perfect moment, sans the crowd and noise.
Anding → Chiayi TRA (by Taiwan Tourist Shuttle 7322)→ Chiayi HSR (by THSR free shuttle bus 7212)→ Taipei HSR
In the morning, we were served breakfast (included in our room rate) at 53 Backpackers – Egg sandwich + Cracker. And we made our coffee – coffee is so the precious, for we didn’t get any so far in our previous stays in Taiwan. All we got was Chinese tea sachets – perhaps it’s a different story in more expensive hotels.
We didn’t wake up early to watch sunrise, nor to check whether there are any “sea of clouds” sighting. But when we checked out around 9am, the good people at 53 Backpackers told us that the cloud of seas are visible at the Eryanping Trail.
Leaving our bags at their tea shop, we walked across with our camera gear. Instead of taking the next bus heading down to Chiayi, we decided to take our time enjoying the view, and for bf to take some good photographs. There will be people stopping by for a photo or two, but they did not linger on .. perfect for us.
While waiting for bus, we were also invited to have tea at 53 Backpackers …or rather, the tea shop that they operate from. They also sell snacks such as wasabi nuts, crackers, wasabi paste, etc here.
Anding -> Chiayi TRA -> Chiayi HSR
There are more buses to Chiayi TRA Station, than Chiayi HSR where we are heading. As the next bus is 7322, we just go along with it. We got a bus around 10am from Anding bus station, and arrived at Chiayi TRA around 11.10am. We followed tips shared by travellers on forum: transfer at Chiayi TRA Station to Chiayi HSR Station via THSR (free) shuttle bus 7212. Some commented no longer free, but it was free for us.
The bus from Alishan did not stop directly in front of Chiayi TRA station. From where we were dropped off, we walked along the road, and Chiayi TRA station is on our left side.
You will need to cross overpass to bus stop at rear of Chiayi TRA Station for 30 mins bus ride to Chiayi HSR Station. We missed that overpass, and walked through Chiayi TRA station instead, without a train ticket oops. We accidentally walked through bicycle pedestrian lane, and managed exit at the other end. Phew.
Wait at Gate No 2. Bus frequency is every 20 minutes from 06:00-23:40.
We were given a BRT card (in blue), to be returned when we alight – it was a free ride for us.
For more info, log on to www.cibus.com.tw.
This time round, we didn’t book any tickets in advance, as we were not sure of our travel schedule. We paid normal fare NT$ 2,160 for 2 reserved seats, on train No 0642 departing Chiayi 13:32, arriving Taipei at 14:59 (Total: 1 hour 27 minutes journey). The earlier the passengers book, the greater chance they enjoy high early bird discount – NT$ 1,080 (full fare), NT$ 970 (10% discount), NT$ 860 (20% discount) and NT$ 700 (10% discount). If tickets with an early bird discount of 35% off are sold out, then tickets with an early bird discount of 20% off are offered, and so on and so forth.
We saw people buying bento at the station, and I wanted to experience eating bento in train … but well, a bento is a bento lah. The bento stall is open during these time periods: 1030-1300 and 1700-1900.
Instead, we had our lunch at MOS Burger and I thought that it is an interesting experience. We ordered their Sharing Set NT$ 339: Australian Wagyu Beef Burger with Roasted Beef + Shogayaki (Japanese Ginger Pork) Rice Burger + Vegetable Croquette, Chicken Nuggets, French Fries.
I also added Pork Sausage with Rib NT$ 50 – because this menu is not available in Thailand, if I am not wrong.
We Chinese have a “Chinese sauce” that I’ve never heard of? It’s a plum-ish kind of sauce .. so Chinese sauce = plum sauce.
Noticed that many people buy jelly.
I couldn’t help but be concerned of rove beetles, after spotting the prevention signage at the station’s platform.
Chiayi HSR -> Taipei HSR
Train arrived at platform at 13:30 .. we got our seats.
Halfway through our journey, more passengers boarded .. and I was surprised to find “non-reserved ticket” passengers entering our coach. I am not sure whether it’s a norm for these type of passengers to get onto the reserved cars; whether their tickets are confined to non-reserved cars. There are many standing passengers in our car – and there was one couple carrying a baby standing next to us. What do you do in a situation like this, when u obviously pay a premium to secure a seat. Well, bf offered his seat willingly, but the couple declined politely.
Other than that, the journey was uneventful.
The hostel is within walking distance to Taipei 101 – 15 mins walk, 1 km – and this allowed us to take day and night photos of the landmark skyscraper.
5th Floor, No. 115 Keelung Rd. Sec. 2 (No. 115號, 基隆路二段) Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Tel: +886 955 780 359
Nearest MRT: Taipei 101/World Trade Center (Red Line) / Liuzhangli (Brown Line)
50 Lan (50嵐)
Because I am such a good GF (mmm … hmmm), I went down to get drinks for our lazy time at hostel. Just like my half-baked Thai language skillset, my broken Mandarin sometimes brought me unnecessary headache in Chinese majority-country. I had difficulty ordering in Chinese, and staff spoke little English – a cup of milk tea comes with a trail of questions: sugar level, ice level and for goodness sake, even pearl size.
I got us a Bubble Milk Tea (Medium – 40 baht), with god know whatever pearl size that I simply agreed with, and a Plum and Kumquat Juice (Medium – 40 baht).
Shihlin Night Market (士林夜市)
I remembered from my previous trip that food at Shihlin Night Market is just average – but since bf has not been here before , we made a trip there for food. Rule of thumb – long queue = popular food.
Shilin Night Market Food Court (士林夜市B1美食區) – we made a beeline to the Food Court at basement, and saw that there is Locker service at the basement.
The stalls at the food court are selling more or less the same stuff. I suggested that we skip the food here, so that we have space for street food.
The first stall we tried had a “PMS” man running the place – he had zero patience for fumbling tourists who speak broken Mandarin, that didn’t know what to order and read Chinese. I wanted to order braised pork rice (滷肉饭 Lu rou fan), but just couldn’t find the right words in Mandarin – I got something remotely similar, but it wasn’t the same. Other tables have a plate of meat dish, so I pointed and ordered the same for us. As food is mediocre, the grouchy service just doesn’t cut it for me.
Honey with bittergourd juice (NT$ 70) – This drink is high on my list, just because of its weirdness – who on earth have appetite for bittergourd juice? Well, this drink tastes better than we thought. Worth a try for something local.
Sausage galore – We didn’t buy this, but some bought the big sausage (NT$ 100).
Spring onion wrapped with bacon – First stall we tried when we first walked towards Shihlin – the spring onions needed more time on the grill, too raw and “spicy” for me.
Carbon barbecue (NT$ 12) – spring onions wrapped with bacon – When we saw this stall later, we can tell that the quality here is so much better. So, bf got into the queue and patiently waited for “his” stick of spring onions wrapped with bacon. Perhaps I should get him tonnes of spring onions for his birthday.
Deep-fried milk (1 stick – NT$ 20) – intrigued, and gave it a try – let’s put it this way: one try is enough.
Curry fish ball (NT$ 25) – extra spicy is really extra spicy .. pedas!
Grilled squid – He has been eyeing grilled squid for a while .. so, why not?
Hot-star Large Fried Chicken – I like this, but it’s messy and oily.
Shihlin Night Market (士林夜市)
In the neighborhood of Dadong Rd., Danan Rd., Wenlin Rd. and Jihe Rd., Shilin Dist., Taipei City 111, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Opening hours: 7/8pm-12am
Nearest MRT: Red line – Jiantan Station (劍潭) – Exit E1, not Shilin Station. After leaving Exit 1, diagonally cross the street to the left to enter the night market.
We like 7-Eleven in Taiwan – lots of varieties like Thailand. We usually buy few things to try, and my purchase for today:
Papaya milk + Chun Cui He 純萃喝’s Earl grey milk tea (NT$ 30)- Since I didn’t get to try Papaya Milk at Shihlin Night Market, I ended up buying one from 7-Eleven. Weirdish papaya mixed with milk kind of concoction. Chun Cui He 純萃喝’s Earl Grey Milk Tea is a bomb though – love it.